egan in August 1914, Hoover helped organize the return of 120,000 Americans from Europe: tourists, students, executives, etc. Hoover led five hundred volunteers in the distribution of food, clothing, steamship tickets, and cash. "I did not realize it at the moment, but on August 3, 1914, my career was over forever. I was on the slippery road of public life." Hoover liked to say that difference between dictatorship and democracy was simple: dictators organize from the top down, democracies from the bottom up. Belgium faced a food crisis after being invaded by Germany. Hoover undertook an unprecedented relief effort with the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). As chairman of the CRB, Hoover worked with the leader of the Belgian Comite National de Secours et Alimentation (CN), Emile Francqui, to feed the entire nation for the duration of the war. The CRB obtained and imported millions and millions of metric tons of foodstuffs for the CN to distribute, and watched over the CN to make sure the German army didn't appropriate the food. The CRB became a veritable independent republic of relief, with its own flag, navy, factories, mills, and railroads. Private donations and government grants supplied an $11-million-a-month budget.
For the next two years, Hoover w
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